Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products, including home, life, auto, and commercial, and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, mainly in the insuranc...

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UPDATED: Oct 19, 2021

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Important facts to know...

  • A riot is a violent disturbance of the peace by a crowd
  • Cars and trucks often get damaged and destroyed during riots
  • Certain types of insurance coverage pay for damage not related to an accident, such as riot damage
  • It is important to review your policy to understand what it does and doesn’t cover
  • You can make sure you always have the right auto insurance coverage by shopping various companies and reviewing your policy every six months

A riot is defined as a violent disturbance of the peace by a crowd. People riot for all sorts of reasons. In today’s politically fraught times, news of riots has become more commonplace.

Civil unrest sometimes results from major news stories with grave implications on society. Other times, people riot for rather inane reasons, such as their sports team winning or losing a big game.

Regardless of the reasons for a riot, the damage can be extreme.

  • Homes and businesses get destroyed.
  • People get hurt and even killed.
  • Entire city sections have been decimated in some of the country’s more notorious riots.

One thing that seems to happen frequently in riots is vehicles getting set on fire or overturned.

If your car gets caught up in a riot, it can be damaged or destroyed quickly. But if you have certain types of coverage on your car insurance policy, you should be protected.

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The following sections explain how car insurance applies in a riot damage situation.

What are the most recent riots in the United States?

Riots might seem like an obscure threat to your vehicle. But sadly, they’ve become more commonplace in the United States in recent years. Several high-profile riots have taken place recently. All of them caused extensive damage to vehicles, homes, and businesses.

The Ferguson, Missouri Riots

The riots in Ferguson, just north of St. Louis, took place in August 2014. Residents were upset that a city police offer had just been acquitted of charges stemming from a fatal shooting. They took to the streets to protest, and sadly, their protests turned violent.

They burned and looted buildings, and they destroyed cars and other vehicles. The federal government even deployed the National Guard to quell the situation. The riots also resulted in 16 injuries and over 300 arrests.

The Charlotte, North Carolina Riots

The 2016 riots in Charlotte also stemmed from a police shooting incident. Rioters threw rocks at police offers and destroyed squad cars. They blocked interstates, looted tractor-trailers, and stormed a local Walmart.

Major companies in the area, such as Bank of America, fearful for their employees’ safety, shut down operations temporarily. One person was killed in the unrest, while 32 were injured and 45 were arrested.

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What insurance coverage types are available?

Whether your car insurance policy pays for riot damage depends on the coverage types you have. Car insurance isn’t a one-size-fits-all product. You can mix and match different types of coverage based on your individual needs.

The following car insurance coverages are the ones you’ll most commonly find on a policy:

Liability Coverage

Liability insurance covers damage to other vehicles and injuries to other drivers and passengers. If you’re the driver at fault in an accident, you’re liable for the damage you cause. Liability coverage keeps you from having to pay out of pocket for this damage.

Most states require that you carry liability insurance to drive legally. The only states without this requirement are New Hampshire and Virginia.

Regardless of whether you live in a state that requires liability coverage, it’s something you should have.

Car accident damage can be expensive. Add medical bills for injuries on top of that, and you could be looking at tens of thousands of dollars, if not more. The other party or parties can sue you for this damage if you lack insurance.

The court might end up garnishing your wages or seizing your assets to satisfy what you owe.

Collision Coverage

Collision coverage pays for damage to your vehicle in a collision. It pays when you’re at fault in the accident. If the other driver is at fault, they are liable, and their insurance should pay for your damages.

No state requires you to carry collision coverage. But if you finance your vehicle, then chances are, the lender will make you get this coverage. In a situation where your vehicle is totaled, the insurance company uses one of two methods to calculate the payout.

Under the replacement cost method, you receive the amount it would cost to restore your car to its condition before the accident. Under the cash value method, you receive the blue book value of your car before the accident.

Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive coverage pays for damage that results from non-collision incidents. Some of the most common situations in which comprehensive coverage pays for damages are as follows:

  • Falling objects (e.g., trees, light poles, and so forth)
  • Fire
  • Theft
  • Explosion or earthquake
  • Wind damage
  • Hail or flood damage
  • Vandalism
  • Riot or civil commotion
  • Animal damage

Notice that riot damage is included on the list. Most comprehensive insurance policies cover it, along with a host of other damages relating to theft, vandalism, and weather disasters. But all insurance policies are different.

You’ll want to review yours closely and consult with your agent to be sure of what your policy does and doesn’t cover.

That said, comprehensive coverage is the only type of car insurance that is likely to cover riot damage. If you lack this coverage and your car gets damaged in a riot, your insurance company probably won’t pay.

How to verify your coverage?

If riot damage coverage is important to you, then you’ll want to verify your policy has this coverage before you buy it. You can verify by reviewing the terms of your comprehensive policy and by discussing your concerns with your agent.

Your comprehensive plan is the only place in your policy where riot damage coverage is likely to be contained. If you look at your comprehensive policy, it should list, item by item, the common scenarios in which the plan pays.

You’ll probably see something about riots or civil unrest on this list.

If you don’t, you’ll want to speak with your agent. The list isn’t always all-inclusive.

Sometimes it contains a provision that any damage that is reasonable and unintentional (meaning you didn’t damage the vehicle yourself on purpose) is covered but your agent can let you know for sure.

How to get the best auto insurance deal?

The first step to buying car insurance is figuring out what coverage you need and at what amounts. Once you’ve made that decision, you can start pricing policies to see which company offers what you need at the best rate.

One important step to getting the best car insurance deal is comparison shopping. This comparison includes reviewing company ratings from financial institutions and for customer service.

You should also review each company’s financial ratings.

Insurance companies receive financial ratings on websites like A.M. Best and  Moody’s. You can use this information to help make your decision.

Financial institutions rate insurance companies on their solvency and how reliable they are at paying an insurance claim. An “A”+” or “A” rated company is financially sound and should have no problem meeting its obligation to pay customer claims.

Going with a lower-rated company might be cheaper, but it offers less security.

Let’s hope you’re never involved in a riot but if you find yourself caught up in civil unrest and your vehicle has damage from riots, your auto insurance will pay if you have comprehensive coverage.

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